Robert Temel

Category Culture Education

February 2005 to October 2006; 21 months

Client (Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development, Federal Ministries for Education, Science and Culture; Transport, Innovation and Technology; Economy and Labor)

Partners uma

Context was an initiative for increasing the use of innovation, research and technology development. As part of this campaign the conference was organized to go beyond usual, only technology-oriented understandings of innovation politics to discuss and show the potential of humanities, social and cultural studies.


Austrian science policy related to cultural heritage shall be reoriented away from a nostalgic, mainly high-culture-oriented tendency towards a perspective based on recent developments in humanities and social sciences and on interdisciplinarity. Cultural heritage should be understood as an open, diverse and connected practice as it is also the case with contemporary culture. Target group were decision makers in Austria and the European Union from the fields of science policy, research funding, science management and actors affected by science policy.

Starting point for programming where topics that have been discussed in the feasibility study “Wissenschaftliches und kulturelles Erbe in Österreich. Über die Definition, Sammlung, Erfassung, Erhaltung und Zugänglichkeit von wissenschaftlichen Quellen” (Scientific and cultural heritage in Austria. On the definition, collection, documentation, preservation and accessibility of scientific sources) commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. At the beginning, a program committee was founded consisting of Homi K. Bhabha (Harvard), Claudia Haas (London/Vienna), Christian Dögl (Vienna) and Robert Temel (Vienna). The committee defined the perspective of the conference and invited the speakers. The two conference days were divided into four sessions, starting with an overview related to the main topic, the role of narration in cultural heritage. After that, the two important situations of the museum and of urban space were discussed in connection to narrating and finally a conclusion was drawn.
Session 1, Narrating Heritage
Homi K. Bhabha: The Texture of Heritage
Monika Mokre: The Cultural Heritage in Spite of Everything
Peter Weibel: Heritage and the Noah’s Ark Principle. A Defect Narration
Session 2, The Museum as a Site of Narration
Ulrike Vedder: Museum and Death
Churchill Madikida: Mapping Memory. Former Prisoners tell their Stories at Constitution Hill
Gail Durbin: Who tells the Museum Story?
HG Merz: video audio disco
Session 3, The City as a Site of Narration
Felipe Hernández: Beyond Dichotomous Cities. Historicizing Transculturation and the Latin American City
Margaret Crawford: Listening to Chelsea, Massachusetts
Rahul Mehrotra: Bazaars in Victorian Arcades. Conservation and the Question of Cultural Significance
Session 4, Continuing Narration
Adelheid Pichler, Johanna Riegler and Fernand Kreff: From Rethinking Culture to Rethinking Cultural Heritage
Monika Sommer-Sieghart: Rethinking Cultural Heritage, Remapping Curatorial Practice
Elke Krasny: City Telling or Walking down Memory Lane

The conference showed the complex relations between culture, politics and society and used such a perspective to work against a truncated and autonomous conception of culture. Instead of that, cultural heritage should always be seen in the political and social context in which it developed and is lived.

Why is this a reference project?
The conference gathered an important interdisciplinary group of speakers reflecting the status quo of contemporary research on cultural heritage who where able to show the complexity of the topic in the two days the conference took.

Conference Booklet (PDF)
Project description


Baufeld D13 in der Seestadt Aspern, Wien | Photo: RT Baufeld D13 in der Seestadt Aspern, Wien | Photo: RT